If Your Florida Home or Property Was Built in the Early 1970s or Before, Your Plumbing Drainage System May Be Broken

In Florida, nearly two and a half million homes suffer from this problem and need urgent attention. Cast iron pipes have been used in residential plumbing systems for decades due to their durability and longevity. However, over time, these pipes can develop various issues that can be costly and disruptive for homeowners in Florida.

One common problem with cast iron pipes is corrosion. Florida's hot and humid climate can accelerate the corrosion process, causing the pipes to weaken and eventually fail. Corroded pipes can lead to leaks, burst pipes, and even sewage backups, posing health hazards and causing extensive property damage.

Another issue that homeowners may encounter with cast iron pipes is root intrusion. As the trees and shrubs surrounding a property grow, their roots can infiltrate and damage the pipes. This can result in blockages, slow drains, and compromised plumbing systems.

Additionally, cast iron pipes can also be susceptible to scale buildup, which occurs when minerals and other deposits accumulate on the inner surface of the pipes over time. Scale buildup can restrict water flow, reducing water pressure and potentially causing plumbing fixtures to malfunction.

Frequently Asked Questions About Cast Iron Pipe Insurance Claims in Florida

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover the Replacement of Leaky Pipes?

Whether or not your homeowners' insurance will cover the cost of replacing cast iron pipes will depend on a few factors. In general, homeowners insurance policies are designed to cover sudden and accidental damage to your home's plumbing system. This may include damage caused by a burst pipe or a sudden leak.

One of the challenges of cast iron pipe insurance claims is that they can be difficult to prove. Unlike other types of damage, such as fire or storm damage, cast iron pipe damage can often be hidden behind walls or underground. This can make it difficult to assess the extent of the damage and determine the cause. Insurance companies may also try to argue that the damage is due to normal wear and tear, which may not be covered under your policy. Therefore, even if an insurance company says “No,” there is often a “Yes!” to be found if one knows where to look.

The insurance company may send an inspector to your home to assess the damage. Remember that you can also call in your experts for estimates, which may help if you need to take legal action. It’s essential to file your claim as soon as the water damage becomes visible, which usually means within the first 72 hours. Otherwise, insurance companies might deny it because regular upkeep was not performed on the house. 

How Much Does it Cost to Replace Cast Iron Pipes in Your Home?

Damage from leaking pipes can sometimes cost over $100,000.00 and create a total loss of your home.  The cost to replace a sewer line in Florida ranges from $3,000 to $37,000. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to tell without inspecting your home and knowing more about your sewer line. The longer the time needed to be replaced, the more expensive the job.

The factors that affect cast iron sewer pipe replacement cost include:

  • How much concrete floor must be removed and replaced to access the sewer line?
  • How many structures in the home are blocking access to the sewer line (i.e., kitchen islands, floor drains, etc.)?
  • The number of bathrooms in the home?

How Do I Know if My Pipes Are Corroded or Failing?

If your cast iron sewer pipes are 25 Years old or older, they could fail anytime. Your drainage lines may already be damaged by tree root intrusion, cracks, channeling, or misaligned connections before you experience complete sewer line failure.

Without a visible water leak, the best way is to have a professional inspect the pipes with unique cameras that can document the condition of your pipes. Wet and damaged baseboards behind sinks, a dishwasher, or a washing machine; warped wood floors; or loose floor tiles can be visually inspected for damage, but the problem pipes might be concealed behind walls or concrete. Plumbers have special diagnostic tools that they can use to check hard-to-access areas.

A few telltale signs are:

  • Warped or separated wood floors
  • Tinted (raised) floor tiles
  • Broken or loose floor tiles
  • Look for stains behind the sink, bathtub, or toilet tank. Corroded galvanized pipes leave behind a rusty brown stain.

Repair or Replace Under Slab Cast Iron Pipes

So, with cast iron sewer pipes, especially older lines, it doesn’t make sense to locate or repair the leak or leaks. And once you find out you have a sewer leak, most likely, it’s been there for a significant amount of time. So, it’s in your best interest to prevent any possible or further structural damage to your house.

If you have a sewer leak or leaks under the concrete slab of your home’s foundation, it’s possible it could cause cracks in your walls or foundation, sloping floors, or more. You need to consider damage, not just to the pipes, but to your home.

Should I Speak With a Lawyer Before Contacting My Insurance Company?

Absolutely.  Your insurance company will try to squeeze the facts of your situation into one of many coverage exclusions. Absent help from a professional could jeopardize your chance of getting paid. Insurance companies often try to deny pipe damage claims based on carefully worded exclusions, so it is crucial to fully understand the nature of your claim BEFORE speaking with the insurance company.

One of the challenges of cast iron pipe insurance claims is that they can be difficult to prove. Unlike other types of damage, such as fire or storm damage, cast iron pipe damage can often be hidden behind walls or underground. This can make it difficult to assess the extent of the damage and determine the cause. Insurance companies may also try to argue that the damage is due to normal wear and tear, which may not be covered under your policy.

Is There a Class Action Lawsuit for Cast Iron Pipes in Florida?

No. We do not believe so. Cast iron plumbing pipes do not last forever, so we do not think a valid class action lawsuit is pending for cast iron pipes if they’ve lived up to their life expectancy – about 50 years. Your insurance company may still have to pay you for these pipes if they’ve caused damage to your property. Our firm will review your case and claim.

Why Should Homeowners Seek an Attorney?

Dealing with insurance companies can be a frustrating experience, especially regarding cast iron pipe insurance claims. Insurance companies are vested in minimizing payouts to policyholders, which can lead to many challenges when making a successful claim. That's where legal representation comes in. An experienced attorney can help you navigate the complex world of insurance claims and ensure that your rights are protected. Don’t let the insurance company take advantage of you.

One of the most essential benefits of having legal representation for your cast iron pipe insurance claim is that it levels the playing field. Insurance companies have teams of lawyers and adjusters trained to minimize payouts and protect the interests of their clients. Without skilled representation, policyholders may find themselves at a disadvantage and unable to negotiate effectively. 

  • Ordinary Wear and Tear
  • Failure of Proper Maintenance
  • The damage was not “Sudden and Accidental.”
  • Pre-Existing Damage
  • Leaks Lasting Longer than 14 Days
  • No Coverage for “Flood” Losses
  • No Coverage for “Plumbing” Issues Generally

Another benefit of having legal representation is that it can help you avoid costly mistakes. Insurance claims can be complex, and even a minor error can significantly impact your ability to secure compensation. Our experienced insurance claim attorneys will guide you through the process and ensure all necessary steps are taken to protect your interests.

How Long Does the Claims Process Typically Take for Cast Iron Pipes?

The length of the claims process will depend on many factors, including the damage's extent, the claim's complexity, and the insurance company's responsiveness. In general, resolving claims can take a few weeks to several months.

 Here is an overview of the process:

  • Initial consultation: Your attorney will meet with you to assess your claim and determine whether you have a valid case.
  • Investigation: Your attorney will gather evidence to support your claim, including conducting inspections, reviewing maintenance records, and interviewing witnesses.
  • Negotiation: Your attorney will negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf to secure a fair settlement.
  • Litigation: If necessary, your attorney will represent you in court to protect your rights and fight for the compensation you deserve.

Has Your Home Insurance Company Denied or Undervalued Your Cast Iron Pipe Claim in Florida?

If your insurance company is dragging its feet regarding your property damage claim, you should speak with an experienced insurance claim lawyer as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Florida law office at 800.451.6786 to schedule your free consultation. We help Florida residents fight the big insurance companies failing to abide by their policies. Remember, we work on a contingent basis, meaning you don't pay us anything until we win your case. 

K.C. Williams III
Managing Partner who has spent his entire career representing Florida insurance and personal injury claims.